Shark Appreciation – The Canaries of our Seas
By Mae Dorricott
We asked seven inspirational divers, environmentalists, and ocean advocates to act as Fin Collection ‘shark ambassadors’, celebrating their work and their special connection with sharks and with the ocean. Mae represents the Harlequin Shark.
“I can still remember the first time I saw sharks in the wild. I was only a young’en with a mask and snorkel on that was far too large for me. We were snorkelling the waters of East Malaysia, my mother’s home and there they were. Small black-tip reef sharks roaming around on a reef of psychedelic colour. That was it, I was hooked.”
From that point I knew I wanted to be a marine biologist, not to research sharks, but to understand the whole system that they are a part of. This has taken me to some amazing places in the world, and consequently have been able to see a range of shark species that encapsulate the diversity of these animals.
From the iconic great white shark, the fearsome bull shark, the well-known Caribbean reef shark and the most endangered angel shark. They range in shape, size, colour just like us… yet, even with their incredible evolution to thrive in a myriad of habitats, they all share the common threat of being lost from our oceans forever.
The reasons for their demise are just as vast and complex as the number of species of sharks in our seas. Yet, I believe there is one underlying reason; human disconnect to the oceans.
Through receiving the 2017 Rolex Scholarship, I was lucky enough to visit and learn from some of the best shark advocates who are trying to make the change, attempting to reconnect individuals with this important apex predator.
I’ve been blessed to meet Mike Neumann, Christina Zenato and Andrew Fox, all who run diving operations that aim to change perspectives of sharks. It is such a privilege to be able to be in the water with these misunderstood animals and witness their grace, beauty and power. In each of these operations from Fiji, South Australia and the Bahamas, I have seen the change in divers faces; from anxiety to pure awe as they come face-to-face with infamous sharks.
But let’s face it, these shark species are well-known and have quite the reputation. Conservation and appreciation of these species is not without it’s challenges, but engaging others with them can be relatively easier to inspire. However, there are some species that are often forgotten, and before we know it, may be gone before we get the chance to acknowledge their awesome-ness.
My most recent project with sharks was with Felipe Olivares, a young Spanish film-maker who works closely with the Angel Shark Project. Inviting me out to the Canary Islands, I had only just landed before he drove me to a special beach to go for a night snorkel. Just off this busy little beach in a famous tourist spot, filled with classic sun-bathers, were numerous baby angel sharks.
I was so surprised to see how close they were to sun-seekers wading in the shallows, who were so unaware of this special creature meters away from their toes. And I believe there lies the crux of the issue. We often forgotten that we share this planet with others.
When sharks cross our paths and it ends in an incident, we blame the shark… but we forget that the ocean is their home, where they have survived and thrived for millions of years.
Hence, my passion and where I believe I can contribute back to this wonderful world that has inspired me, is to engage others in the issues our oceans face, as well as remind them of the beauty and awesome-ness of its inhabitants.
“It’s so important to celebrate the importance of sharks living healthily and abundantly since they are the canaries of our seas. If we can protect them, we can protect the whole ecosystem.” Mae Dorricott
Header Image Credit: Franco Banfi
OceanPositive Harlequin Swimsuit
The Harlequin has been beautifully constructed with shaped panels for a flattering fit. The adjustable back ensures the best fit and security for the wearer. A V-front, high cut leg and narrow crossed straps give this swimsuit an elegant edge.